I am not one to panic. Especially with 150-plus games left on the schedule. The hot starts for the Tribe the last two years resulted in nothing. But obviously you would like to see the lesser parts of your team do well early to give them confidence as the season starts to build.
It was no secret that the weak link of the 2013 Cleveland Indians would be their starting rotation. All five spots offered question marks. Would Justin Masterson regain his 2011 form? On perhaps his last chance here, would Ubaldo Jimenez ever be the guy he was in Colorado? Would Brett Myers be able to transition back into being a starter after spending 2012 in the bullpen? Was Zach McAllister ready for prime time? Who would emerge from the group of candidates to become the fifth starter?
Well we aren’t even two turns through the rotation and the Indians are already going to be on their seventh different starting pitcher tonight when someone – probably Corey Kluber – will be called up from Columbus. This doesn’t even include the man who won the fifth starter spot this Spring, Scott Kazmir. His injury set things in motion and they haven’t stopped.
One of those moving parts was last night’s starter, Carlos Carrasco. His six-game suspension for throwing at the head of Billy Butler in July of the 2011 season was reduced to five games and with the struggle of Myers in his first start, the decision was made to move Carrasco up. Myers would be scheduled to go tonight. The last remaining non-backup-catching hope from the Cliff Lee trade took his shot to make an impression on his new manager.
He managed to dance out of a two on nobody out jam in the first without giving up a run, but it was a sign of things to come. An inning later with two outs, the soft bottom of the Yankees order went to work on Carrasco. Eduardo Nunez singled just past the out-stretched arm of Asdrubal Cabrera at short. Lyle Overbay followed with a sharp single up the middle. Carrasco then shot himself in the foot by walking ninth place hitter Francisco Cervelli, which you just cannot do. Back to the top of the order we went, where Brett Gardner singled in two to put the Yanks on top. The suddenly red-hot Robinson Cano followed with a laser shot to center, which was misplayed by Drew Stubbs into a two-run double. Stubbs is usually as sure handed as they come, but he read the ball poorly, filling in for Michael Bourn who was given the night off. In the third, Ichiro Suzuki lined a home run into the right field bullpen off of Carrasco.
Then came the fourth. Again, the Tribe’s right-hander decided to wait until there were two out before he imploded. He walked Gardner then gave up an opposite field two-run bomb to Cano. At 7-0, it was time to see how Carrasco would respond. He came up and in on the next batter, Kevin Youkilis, and drilled him. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker tossed him from the game. So in his last start in the bigs, Carrasco was tossed and subsequently suspended for the same thing he did last night. Carrasco claims no ill intent and that he “slipped.” Yet he will probably see another suspension from the Commissioner’s office. After the game, Carrasco was waiting for Francona to apologize to him, and denied throwing at Youkilis on purpose.
“I know it doesn’t look good. I really want to say sorry. I don’t want to hit anybody,” he said.
Carlos will probably have to wait on the suspension considering he will most likely be sent out today to make room for Kluber.
Why is Kluber needed you ask? Because Francona decided to go with Myers, Wednesday’s scheduled starter, to replace Carrasco with two outs in the fourth.
At this point, the only thing left to see was how Myers would pitch, considering his last time out he was blasted by the Blue Jays for seven earned runs in five innings, including four home runs. I have been on record as saying that Myers was my biggest concern. He did nothing to alleviate my feelings last week in Toronto. Last night, he was almost as bad, but at least he did Francona one favor. “Brett saved our bullpen. So hopefully we can win a game tomorrow night.”
Myers was asked to wear this one, and that he did. For five and a third innings, the Yankees treated him like their personal pinata. Youkilis, Overbay, and Detroit castoff Brennan Boesch all touched up Myers for long balls. He finished out the game going five and a third, allowing an almost identical stat line to his first outing: seven earned runs on 11 hits, including three homers. In case you are scoring at home, the guy the front office chose to give $7 million to as a middle of the rotation innings eater, has pitched 10.1 innings and has given up 14 runs with seven home runs allowed.
Is it time to panic? I still say it is way too early, but outside of Justin Masterson, the starters have been utterly disastrous. How does 30 IP, 32 H, 27 ER, 17 K/16 BB, 10 HR look to you?
Meanwhile, the offense couldn’t muster anything against the venerable lefty Andy Pettitte. Pitching with a big lead is usually a breeze, especially for a guy like Pettitte. Only Cabrera’s solo homer kept the Tribe from being shutout.
The old baseball adage says “momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.” As of right now, we don’t know who that will be, but I suspect it will be Kluber, who was scheduled to go for Columbus tonight. He will face right-hander Ivan Nova who couldn’t make it out of the fifth against the Detroit Tigers in his first start last week.
(photo via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)